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Contest launched for green ‘fortress’ to block Heathrow expansion

Greenpeace has launched a competition to design an eco-friendly ‘fortress’ on a plot of land earmarked for Heathrow Airport’s controversial third runway

Architects and students have been asked to come up with a ‘defendable’ structure for the 3,000m2 site, purchased by Greenpeace to halt potential airport development in Sipson, Middlesex.

The winning architect will effectively pit themselves against Grimshaw, lead designer for the third runway masterplan, whose London office was recently attacked with tar – allegedly by eco-activists.

Contest judges include Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios co-founder Peter Clegg, Atelier One director Neil Thomas, artist Rachel Whiteread and comedian Alistair McGowan.

Clegg said: ‘As architects, we know what can be achieved in terms of carbon reduction through the design and engineering of our buildings.

‘But we are painfully aware of the fact that there are bigger issues to do with major infrastructure projects, where we also need to make a stand.’

Thomas described the brief as ‘fascinating’, adding: ‘Architects are being asked to design a structure that will become iconic the moment it’s finished. Then, very soon after completion, it could face the threat of bulldozers.’

A spokesperson for runway backer BAA said: ‘We will take things as they come, but it is too early to speculate about our plans [to tackle something like this]. The runway is years away from construction and Greenpeace will be able to make their objections known at a future public inquiry.’

No budget has been set for the winning scheme, although the organisation insists ‘it can raise the funds to build it’. The deadline for submissions is 23 April.

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Greenpeace executive director, John Sauven said:

‘This is a competition to design what could become the next frontline in the fight against climate change. Whoever wins the next election they will come under enormous pressure from the all-powerful aviation industry to push ahead with a third runway. But if the bulldozers roll they’ll face a fortress occupied by a massive movement of ordinary people who oppose Heathrow expansion.’

‘We can raise the funds to build it, now we need the right design. We’re looking for a structure that is immovable and allows local residents and seasoned environmental campaigners to peacefully block the diggers. It might be underground, it might be overground, it might be both, that’s up to the panel of experienced judges from the worlds of architecture and activism to decide. This is a battle of the architects. The other side has a budget of billions but in the end only one structure will be left, and it won’t be a new runway.’

Readers' comments (5)

  • Give the commission to Dan Slavinsky. That's your winner already....

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  • surely (and somewhat ironically) a large obstacle to their 'immovable building' might be the need for planning permission. i'm not sure what place a fortress holds in the local devolopment plan for that area.

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  • .. and you would hope that it has to be zero carbon & BREAM excellent

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  • I hate greenpeace and there luddism. im going to enter a spaceport

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  • is the AJ so desperate for news? - where's the aj editor gone ?

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